March 2020 will see us go through a change to our immigration laws that will essentially close the route to residence for the majority of much-needed migrant employees, definitely a host of people working in horticulture.
From next March, anyone looking to a pathway for residence will have to be on a 'high skill' rate.
According to Immigration NZ, that means new migrants will have to be in a pay bracket of over $104,000 a year.
Everyone under that pay grade is considered low skill and can apply for a temporary work visa only. This work visa will only last one year, can be renewed twice, and that's it, then you have to go home and can't reapply for a year.
The message from the government is clear - you can only be one of us if you are in the top percentile of earners. This bracket of pay is 200% above the median wage and takes pretty well the whole of our industry out of the work-to-residence route. I must admit that when I read about this significant change I was completely floored.
Lyndale, like many Auckland worksites, is a united nations of people.
Applying for a work visa has already been an uphill battle, and the route to residency is very hard but it is effectively about to become impossible for the horticultural industry to go down this route.
Be clear that this does not necessarily capture unskilled labour, in fact, with the existing deals that exist with specific Pacific Island nations, nothing will change too much (you can come and work then go home and someone else will come).
But the skilled and semi-skilled pathway from countries that still have horticultural training of standing and repute, will be where we really feel it.
So the potential nursery managers, skilled propagators, and the sort of people we are all really short of, are only going to have a hope of getting into NZ to live if you can pay them over $104,000 a year.
Small businesses! Take another hit!!